Regrets, he has a few: Rep Tom Rice flip flops on vote objecting to 2020 Electoral College results

U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican, is running for re-election to represent the South Carolina Seventh Congressional District in Congress. Rice was first elected to that office in 2012. He has a large field of Republican challengers this year. He is now voicing regret for a vote he cast on January 6 in support of objecting to the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6. He also voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment just seven days later.

Rice voted along with 147 House and Senate Republicans to object to the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Reflecting back on that vote, he says he should not have cast that vote. He now says he should have voted for certifying the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania on January 6. Why the change of mind? He blames Trump for the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Rice was the only one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump who objected to certifying the election results.

“In retrospect I should have voted to certify,” the Myrtle Beach Republican told Politico on Dec. 22. “Because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol.”

“In the wee hours of that disgraceful night, while waiting for the Capitol of our great country to be secured, I knew I should vote to certify,” Rice told Politico. “But because I had made a public announcement of my intent to object, I did not want to go back on my word. So yeah, I regret my vote to object.”

It seems that now that Trump has called for the defeat of Rice in his re-election bid and given the large field of Republican candidates for the seat, Rep. Rice is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He didn’t vote for certification, he says, because he promised his constituents he would vote that way. That’s what elected officials do to stay on the good side of their voters, they promise to vote the way his supporters want them to do. Then, when the time came, he was having second thoughts but moved forward as promised. He admits to having some doubts about some of the election results, though. he said he has some “real issues with the election.” What pushed him to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment was Trump’s inaction in calling off his supporters during the Capitol Hill riot.

Rice argued the outgoing president watched “with pride” from the safety of the White House and “did nothing to stop it” —despite pleas from Trump’s friends and family — as Capitol Police were beaten for hours, the House was “sacked and defaced” and Vice President Mike Pence and his family fled for their lives. The result, Rice noted, was five dead and hundreds injured.

“There was a coward in that equation,” Rice said. “But it wasn’t Mike Pence.”

Rice is cast as a centrist now for his mixed voting over the 2020 presidential election results. Being labeled a centrist is not good for a large part of today’s GOP. Rice’s record, though, shows he was a solid Trump supporter, with a record of voting with Trump 94% of the time Trump was in office. His overall loyalty to Trump is being brushed aside because Rice voted in favor of impeachment. Trump is going after the Republicans who did that and that is no doubt why Rice has at least 10 challengers now in the Republican primary.

Backlash to Rice’s Trump impeachment vote was swift. The South Carolina GOP later censured him for his vote and didn’t invite him to the party’s state conference that was held in his own district in Myrtle Beach this past October.

S.C. GOP Chairman Drew McKissick declined to comment on Rice’s new statement about his vote. Leaders of the Horry County GOP did not respond to emails asking for their reaction to the congressman’s latest comments.

Trump has already signaled he wants to replace Rice, issuing a statement last month calling on additional “good and SMART America First Republican Patriots” to take on the Myrtle Beach congressman.

Rice kicked off his re-election campaign in early November. At the time he justified his vote for impeachment by saying, “You can’t rip our constitution to shreds and sit there and watch the capitol police get beat up for four hours, and not try to stop it and expect me to support you.” One challenger says Rice “didn’t have to do that” because Trump was already on his way out.

“When he voted with Pelosi and the democrats, he voted with the communists against the American people and against his own district,” Barbara Arthur, a Republican candidate for the seat, said.

One criticism Rice faces from Arthur and several of his other opponents is his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C.

Arthur calls that vote was a betrayal.

“That was a terrible thing, he didn’t have to do that,” Arthur said. “President Trump was on his way out. [Rice] did not represent the people he is supposed to represent.”

That wasn’t the purpose of the impeachment vote, though. Lawmakers wanted to be on the record as holding Trump responsible (or not) for the riot that happened on Capitol Hill. It was already clear that Trump was on his way out. The ten Republicans wanted to be on record saying his behavior was not acceptable. The question in Rice’s re-election bid will be whether or not his constituents agree with his way of thinking now. He isn’t regretful of voting for impeachment, he is regretful for voting against verifying the election results in those two states. He’s put himself in quite a position. He’s blaming his constituents for his vote and not having the stomach to do what he thought was right the first time around.

Rice thinks that his opponents are focusing on that vote because “That one vote is the only bone they have to pick with me.” Perhaps, but that one vote is a biggie. He may be ok, though. He leads in fundraising having raised over $1M by early November. He has the advantage of being the incumbent. And, he has a record of solidly voting in favor of Trump’s agenda. We’ll see if voters can square what he is now saying with his previous record in office.

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